James Irvin, who was forced to withdraw from his UFC 98 bout against Drew McFedries due to injury, is in talks to fill in for Chael Sonnen at UFC 102 against American Top Team (ATT) standout Wilson Gouveia in a 185-pound affair set for the Rose Garden Arena in Portland, Ore., on August 29, according to MMAWeekly.com.
Sonnen was yanked from the Portland event to fill in for a gimpy Yushin Okami against Dan Miller on May 23 in Las Vegas on a card that has been riddled with injuries and multiple roster changes.
Irvin (14-5) tested positive for Methadone and Oxymorphone after his first round technical knockout loss to Anderson Silva at UFC Fight Night 14 on July 19. "The Sandman" — who was nursing a broken foot just weeks before accepting the bout — claims that he used the banned substances to mask the pain associated with the injury.
He has a split record (4-4) in eight fights for the promotion.
Before the loss to Silva, Irvin rebounded from an injury-riddled and bizarre 2007 fight campaign, during which he blew out his knee in a loss to Thiago Silva and was knocked silly courtesy of an errant Luis Arthur Cane knee that resulted in a disqualification win, to knockout Houston Alexander in record time at UFC Fight Night 13 this April.
But the momentum was cut short once again in 2008. And he’ll have to try get it going in 2009 against the dangerous Brazilian.
Gouveia (12-6) is also coming off a disappointing loss – Nate Marquardt went bananas on him in the third round of their fight at UFC 95, unleashing a sensational barrage of strikes from all different angles for which he had no answer.
It was a bout that could have propelled him to the front of the division title contender pack, which has all of a sudden become a rather crowded place. However, it just wasn’t meant to be … for now.
Gouveia recently notched a submission win (armbar) over late replacement Ryan Jensen at UFC Fight Night 15 in his divisional debut back in September. He also smashed Jason MacDonald with vicious elbows at The Ultimate Fighter (TUF) 8 Finale to score an impressive first round technical knockout in Dec. 2008.
This will mark the fourth fight for Gouveia at middleweight. And with losses to top division players such as Marquardt and Goran Reljic, he will need to prove that he can hang with the big dogs when he collides with Irvin in late August.
UFC 102 is expected to feature a main event between Randy "The Natural" Couture (16-9) locking horns with Antonio Rodrigo "Minotauro" Nogueira (31-5-1) in a dream match-up that most fans expected to see before Brock Lesnar and Frank Mir played spoiler roles in the opening round of the mini heavyweight tournament created in late 2008 to crown an undisputed division champion.
Also slated for the main card is perennial light heavyweight contender Keith Jardine (14-5-1) who has been tapped to replace Forrest Griffin in a 205-pound slugfest against hard-hitting Brazilian import Thiago Silva (13-1).
To check out the latest UFC 102 fight card and rumors click here.